U.S. Naugahyde - The Cadillac of vinyl.

For those whose primary concern is their furniture's durability and hose-down-ability, U.S. Naugahyde brings you their 1957 line of shiny, resilient interior furnishings.

Everybody knows Naugahyde is just vinyl with a fabric backing, but did you know/care that the name "Naugahyde" comes from the Connecticut town of Naugatuck, where Naugahyde was first produced? Didn't think/know so.

The fact that Naugahyde was produced by U.S. Rubber is misleading. Vinyl (polyvinyl chloride) isn't rubber. It's plastic that's been tricked into being flexible like rubber, but not quite as stretchy. You couldn't make a workable automobile tire out of vinyl. Depending on how you formulate it, it can be hard or flexy. If you look at a Star Wars figure, you'll notice the torso is kind of hard, but the limbs are kind of soft. Both are PVC, but with different formulations. As a fun little science project, my dad once showed me that if you take a piece of hard PVC and submerge it in acetone for a few minutes, it will remove the hardener and will become the flexy species of PVC. If you leave it in the acetone even longer and stick around to monitor the progress, you'll also notice a  headache, blurred vision and slight unconsciousness.

Anyway, I generally like the Danish modern style of these sample rooms. The furniture is sleek and minmalist. The lines are all very clean and futuristic. Know what though? U.S. Rubber went too far with the vinyl flooring. Everything in the pictures is shiny and plastic. They should have thrown down some carpet to soften things up if they wanted to make it look inviting. But, I'm sure U.S. Rubber also made vinyl floor coverings, so that explains that.

Try as they might, I don't think vinyl ever really took off as a furniture covering. Even in a room-temperature room you can get a sweaty butt just from sitting there too long. Even leather, which is not the ideal couch material, breathes a little better than PVC. People with vinyl furniture quickly became the owners of many ass-puddles.

Notice that the decorators recognized the fact that television technology reached it's peak in 1957, and so they mounted the TV in the wall, safe in the confidence that they'd never want a different one. Well, the Thunderbirds had a TV in their wall, and that show was pretty cool, so maybe I can see why they gave it a whirl.

In a strange lack of continuity, the set decorators included some ornate and decidedly non-modern "art" pieces. Look at the curvy candle holders on the sideboard, and... a clown painting. Yes, these sad punchinellos once were considered lovable harbingers of joy. It's hard to imagine, but once upon a time, clowns were regarded with something other than horror and hatred.

As a special bonus treat/punishment for the readers, the Phil Are Go! Garage Sale Assault Squad has authorized the temporary publication of these rare clown prints for your sanitation. Click and save if you dare. The enigmatic artist "Michele" had a short but fiery career, prior to his/her conviction. These limited edition jpegs were produced in small quantities in cooperation with the parole board, with all proceeds going to the victims of the paintings. Please enjoy them for your cherishment and generations.


Dave Pryor said...

you need a "disturbing" option.

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